Celtics-Heat review: Bass does his part

928541.jpg

Celtics-Heat review: Bass does his part

MIAMI Brandon Bass was among the handful of Boston Celtics players who spent time trying to guard LeBron James during the C's 120-107 loss.

James, who left the game in the second half with cramps, still managed to score a game-high 26 points to go with 10 rebounds.

Prior to the game, Bass spoke about the challenges that a player like James presents.

"Being that he's 6-8, 6-9 he can basically do it all," Bass told CSNNE.com. "He's quick, he's explosive. He's a tough cover, man."

And while Bass didn't exactly shut him down (who does?), there's was little doubt that Doc Rivers made the right call in deciding to start Bass at power forward ahead of Jared Sullinger.

Bass opened the season with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.

"I was happy with Brandon," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "He was terrific. Brandon had a great game. Hell, he should have played 40 minutes."

Rivers was disappointed that a number of his players did not come out and play with the kind of aggression needed to win.

Bass, according to Rivers, was one of the few exceptions.

"He was one of the aggressive ones," Rivers said.

Said Bass: "I just want to play my role to the best of my ability. There were some things I felt I needed to improve on, and I just wanted to do my part. I know without me being aggressive, I can't do that."

An aggressive Bass was certainly one of the keys to Boston keeping the game against the Heat relatively close. Here's a look back on some keys discussed prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Injuries forced Boston to go with small lineups more than they would have liked last season. Now, it's being done out of necessity. Even though Boston has the kind of size to go with more traditional lineups, their approach - and most of the NBA for that matter - is to go with your three best frontcourt players and not necessarily your top two forwards and a center. Boston's resurgence after the all-star break was fueled in part by Kevin Garnett spending more time at center. And the Heat's title run a year ago was aided during the playoffs by head coach Erik Spoelstra's decision to put Chris Bosh - a power forward in the same mold as Garnet - at center.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston's small lineup didn't really make much of an impact until the fourth quarter. With Rajon Rondo, Leandro Barbosa, Jason Terry, Jeff Green and Kevin Garnett on the floor, Boston cut a 16-point deficit down to just four points with just over two minutes to play. Leading the strong surge was the last guy to the team, Barbosa. He had 16 points in less than 16 minutes of playing time off the Celtics bench. "If you get into a scoring contest and Barbosa is on the floor, you feel pretty good," Rivers said.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo vs. Ray Allen: It's unlikely they will be matched up against each other tonight, but the friction that developed between them that factored in Allen's decision to leave Boston, makes any chance they are on the floor at the same time a must-see moment.

WHAT WE SAW: The two did match up with each other for a few possessions, but nothing of great significance erupted from those brief encounters. But in this first meeting, you have to give the edge to Allen. Although Rondo had more points (20) and assists (13) than Allen, the former Celtic who hit clutch shots in the first half that helped Miami take control. Allen had 19 points for the game, 13 of which came in the first half.

PLAYER TO WATCH: It has been an emotional year for Jeff Green who will play in his first regular season game in more than a year. His ability to continue showcasing the skills he displayed in the preseason can have a major impact on the outcome from tonight's game.

WHAT WE SAW: Stage fright. First-night jitters. LeBron James. There are so many plausible reasons that could help explain why Jeff Green struggled so mightily against the Heat. He finished with three points - all from the free throw line - while missing all four of his shots from the field. "I didn't think he was very aggressive," Rivers said. "Maybe we have to do a better job."

STAT TO TRACK: Balancing the highs of getting championship rings with the level-headed demeanor needed to win a game, will be a challenge for the Miami Heat tonight. If recent history is any kind of indicator, the odds are stacked in Miami's favor. Since 2000, teams that win NBA championships are 9-3 in the first game of the following season. Among those wins was a 95-90 win by the C's over a Cleveland team that was led by current Heat star LeBron James. Of the three losses, Miami was involved in two of them. The first came in 2006 after they won the franchise's first championship and were blown out by the Chicago Bulls. The second time was last season when they opened at then-defending champion Dallas and came away with the win.

WHAT WE SAW: Miami showed great composure most of the game while the Celtics looked like the nervous ones. "Our guys did, I thought, a good job of compartmentalizing and turning the switch as soon as it went to the warm-ups and competing and concentrating on the most important thing, which was playing this game to win and giving our fans something to cheer about," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

For weeks the speculation regarding Josh McDaniels wasn't a matter of "if" but "when."

But while national media had McDaniels signed, sealed and delivered to multiple landing spots, the proposition that he'd leave at all was never a likelihood. 

RELATED

The Rams weren't attractive to him from the outset. Jacksonville didn't excite him, either. And on Monday, he passed on the 49ers opportunity. 

The lure of a blank slate in San Fran at quarterback and GM didn't outpace the uncertainty of going cross-country to work for a seemingly dysfunctional franchise that's cycled rapidly through coaches and has an unrealistic sense that it's a long, long way removed from its glory days, the only remnant remaining from that being perhaps the logo on the helmet. 

With four kids and a job McDaniels considers one of the 10 best on coaching -- head man or no -- he will stay on as the Patriots' offensive coordinator.

"I was really impressed with (Niners owner) Jed York and (team executive) Paraag Marathe . . . and the people that came from the 49ers organization," McDaniels said on a conference call this morning. "They did a great job with their presentation. Humbled to be included in that process. At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

The same faulty speculative reasoning that had McDaniels as good as gone from the Patriots will move on undeterred today and surmise that McDaniels is staying with the Patriots because he knows, or has been promised, that he'll receive the head coaching job when Bill Belichick steps aside. 

While the Kraft family certainly thinks highly of McDaniels and that could come to pass, anyone tapping their foot and checking their watch waiting for Belichick to step down is in for a long wait. He's showing no signs of wrapping it up and, while I haven't been told directly McDaniels isn't the automatic successor, he wouldn't be taking interviews at all if he were assured that. 

What will be interesting to see is whether interest remains high in him for other jobs or the perception that he's never going to leave means teams don't bother to ask. San Fran obviously had its heart set on McDaniels. Even though Nick Caserio passed on the chance to interview with the Niners for their open GM job, the team did talk to Louis Riddick about the spot. He and McDaniels have high regard for each other. 

Between McDaniels, Caserio and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, the people closest to Belichick on the coaching flow chart all had chances to go somewhere else and all passed on the chance. It's another example of not why the Patriots are good but why they remain good. Stability. 
 

Monday, Jan. 15: Matthews jersey sells for big money

Monday, Jan. 15: Matthews jersey sells for big money

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wondering what Claude Julien would do if one of the Bruins players was running Facebook Live during his postgame comments.
 
*Auston Matthews is obviously making a huge impression in Toronto as his Centennial Classic jersey sold for over $11,000 at a charity auction.
 
*Clark Booth knows it’s time to talk about the NFL, but instead he wants to talk about Milt Schmidt. I agree with Clark.

*Sabres goalie Robin Lehner says that his Buffalo teammates need to start doing their job as the season circles down the drain.

*Pierre McGuire talks with TSN sports radio about the Ottawa Senators, and the tough road trip coming up for them.
 
*PHT writer Cam Tucker has more bad news for the Tampa Bay Lightning as Ryan Callahan is going to be out for another four weeks with a lower body injury.
 
*As the Detroit Red Wings continue to round up the bottom in the Atlantic Division, Thomas Vanek may become trade bait.
 
*Peter Budaj is giving the Kings the saves that they need with Jonathan Quick out long term with injury.
 
*For something completely different: Tom E. Curran points out some togetherness issues with the Pittsburgh Steelers based on Antonio Brown’s Facebook post.